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Missed free throws cost Bulldogs the game at Rocky

UMW News Bureau

The Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears defeated the University of Montana Western Bulldogs 77-72 in a men’s basketball game at the Fortin Center in Billings Thursday night. By Lowell Peterson The Rocky Mountain College Battlin’ Bears defeated the University of Montana Western Bulldogs 77-72 in a men’s basketball game at the Fortin Center in Billings Thursday night. The Bulldogs (9-4, 21-8) missed 13 free throws (16-29) and the loss dropped them into a first place tie in the Frontier Conference standings with Montana State-Northern (9-4, 23-6) with one game remaining. Rocky (5-8, 12-16) is tied for sixth place with Lewis-Clark State (5-8, 16-11). Montana Western starting forward Tyler Hurley picked up his third foul with just under four minutes gone in the game and was forced to sit out the rest of the first half. The loss of Hurley changed the normal rotation for the Bulldogs and Rocky was able to maintain the lead for the last 10 minutes of the first half. The largest lead for the Bears was eight points when Joel Barndt scored to give Rocky a 25-17 lead with 6:51 remaining. Montana Western chipped away and cut the lead to 35-34 on two Kyle Erickson free throws but Nile Finney scored to give the Bears a 37-34 halftime lead. Erickson and Brandon Brown opened the second half with baskets to give the Bulldogs a one point lead but the Bears responded with an 8-0 run to go back on top 45-38. Sergio Trocha had two free throws and Barndt hit two three point shots in the Rocky run. Montana Western followed with a 9-2 run to tie the game 47-47 with 12:44 remaining. After Rocky went back on top by four points, Hurley and Brown scored to tie the game for the fifth time at 51-all with 10 minutes remaining. Over the next five minutes the teams battled evenly and the game was tied five more times. Rocky retook the lead on a three pointer by Finney and built the lead to eight points, 74-66, with 43 seconds left in the game. Tyler Miller and Hurley each hit a three to get the Bulldogs to with two points with 28 seconds to play. A missed free throw by the Bears gave Montana Western a chance to win but a missed three point shot and a turnover off the offensive rebound forced them to foul with 4.4 seconds left. After Doundrekyc Parham made the first free throw he missed the second but tipped the rebound and Matt Fogarty scored with less than a second remaining for the final two points of the game. Brown led the Bulldogs with 22 points. Erickson recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Hurley finished with 16 points, 13 coming in the second half. As a team Montana Western shot .424 (25-59) from the field, .316 (6-19) on three pointers and .552 (16-29) from the free throw line. Finney scored 23 points, making 9-11 field goal attempts that included 4-5 from three point range. Barndt scored 12 points and had eight rebounds. Fogarty and Trocha each scored 11 points. Rocky Mountain was .518 (29-56) from the field, .467 (7-15) from beyond the three point line and .667 (12-18) on free throws. Montana Western closes out the regular season against the Carroll College Fighting Saints (7-6, 14-11) Saturday night Feb. 25 in Helena. The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. The Saints are in a three way tied with the University of Great Falls and Westminster College for third place in the conference. Rocky hosts Montana Tech (3-10, 11-13) the same night at 5:30 p.m. in Billings.